Consequently, although usually drawn up by free software advocates, surprisingly often these comparisons are almost always both detailed and painstakingly honest about the faults on both sides.
Such a comparison is important enough that the vector graphics editor Inkscape provides one with Illustrator, its main proprietary rival, near the top of its wiki. The comparison is in point form, but it begins with seven things that Illustrator can do that Inkscape cannot. Illustrator's advantages range from gradient meshes to color management for printing. However, the list also includes eight features that Inkscape has that Illustrator does not, such as editing Scaleable Vector Graphics directly and the independent editing of cloned shapes.jka
A much more detailed comparison, this time between GIMP and PhotoShop, was published in the third issue of GIMP Magazine by Steve Czajka. Czajka includes over seventy points of comparison, starting with cost and available support and drilling down to details of tool functionality. Among PhotoShop's unique features, he includes User Profiles and Smart Objects, while among GIMP's unique, he includes Layer Rotation and Lighting Effects. He also mentions when the dialogue windows for both GIMP and PhotoShop could be improved.
Some of these comparisons are several years old, and are no doubt obsolete in places. However, speaking impartially, many suggest that the proprietary apps have mild advantages, sometimes in essential areas such as printing. However, they also demonstrate that the comparison between free and proprietary is by no means far-fetched, or driven by idealism rather than practicality. Even when a free graphic app falls short of its main proprietary equivalent, it is obvious that the feature lists are close, and the differences sometimes no greater than, say the differences between PhotoShop and Lightroom.
However, as Czajka points out once or twice, the features of one free graphics app sometimes tell only part of the story. At times, if a particular feature is unavailable in one free app, it can be found in another, so a missing feature may not matter as much as with a proprietary app. At others, a plugin for a proprietary piece of software can be made to run in free software -- which is not true in reverse.
To insist on the general superiority of free graphics apps would be going too far. However, to prove that they are ready for professionals, superiority is not required. All that is required is a rough equivalence, whose existence is too self-evident to be seriously debated.
Whether you are wiling to use free software may sometimes depend on how much inconvenience you are willing to endure. But the choice, if not inevitable, is by no means as biased towards proprietary software as many people continue to assume.
Just as with free fonts, today free graphic applications offer approximately the same as their proprietary counterparts. If they fall short in particular cases, frequently, so do proprietary graphics software.
Circumstances vary. Yet speaking generally, the idea that a professional designer must be reliant on proprietary apps is as outdated as imagining that Linux must be run from the command prompt. If that is your perception, it is years overdue for an update.